Hello again! Not long since we last met, let me carry on my tale...
I admit folly on my part as I missed one vital part near the end of my last post which were the stickers! We were greeted by a table of speechless Testbash ninjas laid out for everyone to label themselves to ease greetings and starting conversations. These really did come in handy because if all else failed you could just shout someone's name and hope for the best :-D.
As the party got into full swing you could tell the atmosphere was becoming more relaxed, everyone had identified their clique's so they knew where to return to if mingling had failed (this was my plan anyway) and the brave were indeed mingling away. The first strike off my list was Toby, he wandered over and said "heard you were looking for me Zac", I looked at his name badge and knew it was that familiar tram I'd seen plastered all over my Twitter feed. We exchanged pleasantries, asking all the relevant questions e.g. "How drunk are you?" and "Kebab later??!?!"...alas I fear I'm telling a slight fib. Next was on to Rob Lambert, followed by Dan Billing, Rosie and then last but not least (for that night at least) Simon Knight. All of them as nice as the last to meet, every one of them presented the same warm and welcoming smile that I could only have wished for from people who only knew me through a small profile and 140 characters here and there.
Throughout the night a lot of drinks were had, some awesome topics were brought up and I met a few more massive names that I'd seem from blogs and speakers from other conferences such as Tony Bruce, Stephen Blower, Mark Tomlinson and Huib Schoots. The testing conversations ranged from waterfall to agile, performance to UI, unfortunately my memory is hazy from the specifics as annoying as that is! A good time was had so my brain didn't focus on the technical side of the discussions, oopsie. Later on into the evening I met Carly Dyson who was talking to Rob Lambert and this continued on through the night, unfortunately Carly would be seemingly stuck with me and my colleagues for the rest of Testbash...sorry Carly! We'd been speaking on Twitter that day so it was nice to speak face-to-face. With Carly being a performance tester/engineer I definitely remember talking quite a lot about this area. The evening started to wind down and we were seated now, as the rock'n'roll testers we were (Rich you know what I mean ;-) ), most of us decided it was food time because of either general hunger or alcohol-induced hunger, whichever one I was all I remember is that I was grateful Subway was still open. After we'd all slowly devoured our pre-hangover food we all went back to our respective accommodations with some of the group crazily planning to meet up at 7:20am the next morning for breakfast (nutters the lot of them).
Morning of Testbash and I'm relieved not to (seemingly) have a hangover from the night before and was ready and raring to go learn, learn, learn! I made it to Brighton Dome just in time for the lean coffee session that was going on on the upper floor of the main entrance room. I knew the name of this coffee session but I hadn't a clue what the "lean" part of it was. After grabbing a cup of tea (yeah, I know, rebel) and saying hello to the few faces I'd recognised from the night before I sat down with a few other folks and was presented with the rules for the session. We were each to write a few topics on post-it notes, place them in the middle of the table and then vote on which ones we'd like to talk about. We had three sections: To do, doing and done. The kanban approach to tracking the discussion was really fun and gave the talk a very agile and easy-to-follow layout. We had eight minutes to talk about the topic with the most votes and after this we voted yay, nay or maybe with our thumbs in the Roman fashion. If the topic received a yay it would carry on for four minutes and a nay then we'd stop and move to the next one.
The first topic we spoke about was the one I put forward, albeit this was probably due to the vagueness of the statement "Is testing still relevant?" which practically boiled down to me asking whether automation vs human was better, that 's a talk for another time. The next talk was on metrics and whether they were used in an agile environment? Which was a really interesting topic to discuss as it's not something I've heard a lot of people talk about before. The thing I took away from the lean coffee though wasn't the topics themselves but the act of just discussing with fellow testers really helped me understand what I should be thinking about to become a better tester. It was also interesting as the last thing we got told to do was to do this exact thing i.e. "what would we take away from this" and as well as the statement above I felt that as a true testament to the way a tester thinks we took the original topic and progressed further into it, asking more and more questions that would eventually lead to more questions and answers as a tester would with a new feature/bug. After all of this was over we hung around for a bit before being let into the main hall for the main event to begin...
End of part 2